Healthcare pricing: too good to be true


Americans are increasingly frustrated with the high cost of health care. The temptation to buy any snake oil remedy to solve the problem can be almost overwhelming. In a handful of states, this has led to the government allowing prices to be set. Plain and simple: Rate fixing by a bunch of government bureaucrats is nothing more than fool’s gold.

Why would anyone think that something as complex and fluid as health care could be well managed by government? Putting government between doctors and patients is bad medicine. Worse, while the idea had merit, putting it into practice has already produced demonstrable results that pricing isn’t working.

In Maryland, Oregon, Washington State, and all the other states that have rates in place, the story is the same. Colorado is the last state to take the plunge. It is only a matter of time until the bad news becomes reality there, too.

So who is behind the pressure for the government to set rates? The giant insurance companies that would benefit from the policy. After all, the government itself, with the exception of the military, does not actually provide health care. Price lock-in means insurance companies know in advance what they will be paid. It certainly reduces the risk they take, but should these huge corporations be the only factor to consider when pricing and delivering health care?

When the government sets tariffs, the results are as predictable as the change of seasons. This results in fewer doctors. They move to states where they are free to practice without government bureaucrats or politicians arbitrarily deciding on the cost of a given procedure.

Health facilities, especially in rural areas, are reduced in number for the same reason. So rather than lowering the cost of health care, pricing invariably results in significant increases for many patients.

The quality of care is also compromised. Doctors and institutions forced by the government are forced to lay off workers and reduce investments in new technologies and new products.

Government is a blunt instrument. It is not designed for quick adjustments. Thus, the prices remain the same even if external factors change. A complicated and expensive procedure today can become simple and inexpensive in the blink of an eye.

As President of United Seniors for America (US4A), I am particularly concerned about the negative impact of pricing on seniors. Making health care less accessible is a death sentence for many of us.

UA4A is committed to engaging in the battle against pricing. We understand the attraction for the concept. It sounds so good to hear that the government will take care of things, set fair prices and ensure citizens have access to health care. The problem is, as the data clearly shows, it’s too good to be true.

We believe that an informed public will not allow pricing to become policy. Get the facts. Then get involved. Go to www.usaseniors.com to learn more about this issue and what you can do to stop rate fixing.

Pricing is a prayer answered for giant insurance companies. For everyone else, it’s a curse. We cannot let this happen.

Bill Greener III is president and senior spokesperson for United Seniors for America (US4A), an older adult rights organization that supports center-right principles and policies.

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